The symptoms of Altitude Sickness are known as AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), which is quite common on high-altitude adventures. Depending upon the fitness of people and immunity level at a higher elevation, where oxygen level goes down in the body. Then the people feel sick and lethargic or exhausted, lacking interest from all, and the patient needs immediate medical attention.
Normally Altitude Sickness or AMS occurs in some people who are not used to high-altitude terrain. Can happen to strong trekkers also sometimes if one is not careful, the idea and good way to avoid it.
The altitude sickness and AMS is taking things slowly and having enough rest, whenever one feels breathlessness needs rest.
Before continuing the walks uphill designate overnight stops as well taking many fluids like clean drinking water.
On higher altitude walks, the medical advice and suggestion are to have at least 2-3 litres of water a day. To make you feel safe from high altitude sickness as well as dehydration, which is very important at higher elevations.
The best and right thing for trekking high altitude areas above 3,000 m high, is walking at a slow pace. As well as having rest days for acclimatization at least a minimum of 2-3 days, staying overnights at the same heights.
It also depends upon the region of trekking and itinerary days chosen as per one interest and time for holidays. For higher altitude trekking like Everest base camp or around Gokyo valley, some treks involve crossing high passes.
Like in Everest three passes or just only Cho-La pass at above 5,400 m, as well around Annapurna Circuit. Crossing high Thorang-La pass above 5,416 m and Larke-La pass 5, 106 m on Manaslu Circuit. These are the few popular main trekking areas, where the main flow of trekkers enjoys.
But there are many various high-altitude adventures around Nepal Far East to the Western Himalayan region. Around most Himalayas areas facilities for the medical requirement is far from the region of trekking. Where the quickest and fastest means of transportation in case of an emergency evacuation, needs to call for Helicopter services.
One of the important for all trekkers visiting Nepal and its high Himalayan destinations requires medical and travel insurance. Which are compulsory norms as per every trekking agencies, when booking related trekking in Nepal.
As well for other Himalayan countries, like Bhutan, Tibet and India also, on using helicopter services. Where your insurance companies will be responsible for reimbursement for extra expenses incurred. The local company can only issue a backup letter of the incidence. So that you can claim the money from your insurance companies in your home countries.
Symptoms Of Altitude Sickness Or Ams:
Various symptoms of altitude sickness or AMS for different people, from slight headache, nausea, fatigue, lethargy, and lack of appetite. As well as having sleepless nights and feeling drowsy and dizzy with tiredness and not having interest.
The heavy throbbing of headache, the centre of the head where the victim should be well watched and taken care of. Some people get a slight headache which is normal and passes away, after having rest. For severe headache vomiting and feeling nausea, the patient should be taken care of and should be brought down.
There are two types of AMS which are known as HACE. The full name of HACE is (High Altitude Cerebral Oedema) which is water/fluid in the brain.
HAPE is water in the lungs the full name is High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema), for these two major symptoms. The patient needs immediate care and evacuation to the nearest medical post of hospitals.
Prevention Measures And Suggestions:
The main important and safe precautionary measure is walking slowly at an easy pace and strides. Having rest before getting breathless, as well as having plenty of water to drink, and covering well from the wind chill.
On reaching certain heights above 3,000 m have a few rest days for acclimatization before heading to higher areas. As well as taking a short exercise and hiking up the hills and getting down for rest and overnight stops.
Moving up and sleeping low is the best way of acclimatization, which is done by the mountaineers on every expedition. The next phase is having rest taking things slow and relaxing, and enjoying hot drinks.
Alcoholic drinks should be avoided on going up, as it creates complications whether from alcohol or with altitude. Which makes it hard to compare, better not to have alcoholic drinks going towards higher areas.
Some people do carry Diamox tablets for precaution against altitude which is also known medically as acetazolamide. As well Lasix or furosemide as a precaution, but should understand and know very well as per your doctor’s advice.
The Diamox has usually taken in places where there is no fastest way to reach lower areas. Diamox, also have a few side effects and reaction, such as tingling fingers, and making you pee a lot. At high altitudes, it is best to drink a lot of fluid and pee a lot also. Normally taking Diamox or Lasix should be medically prescribed by your doctors, the guide or leader should know as well.
So that they can keep a record if someone gets sick by using certain pills prescribed by the doctors. But the best is not to use the Diamox or Lasix if the itinerary days with an average distance of walks. Having enough rest days for acclimatization at certain the best way to fight against altitude sickness or AMS.
In case of severe High Altitude Sickness of AMS, either bring the patient down to lower areas. In critical situation needs the fastest means of transportation for immediate evacuation and the only way is to call for helicopter services.
The patient should be accompanied by close relatives, friends, or family members if not, a guide or staff will accompany. Reaching Kathmandu or nearest cities hospitals for instant care, where all extra expenses should be taken be on clients insurance. The company will contact your insurance before requesting the helicopter, depending upon insurance coverage.
If it does not cover helicopter evacuation, a client should solely be responsible for all the extra costs incurred. This is why all trekkers visiting Nepal for various trekking and other adventure, should get medical and travel insurance.
Most important at high altitudes to be safe for enjoyable adventure holidays, is walking at a slow pace. Have rest days for acclimatization, as well as take short hikes uphill and sleep low. Drinking plenty of fluids, water, soups, or plain tea or lemonade but not alcoholic drinks while going up.
Do not use sleeping pills, or tablets at high altitudes, better to have a sleepless night, than not wake up at all.
FAQ: (Frequently Asked Questions):
What are the first signs of altitude sickness?
From slight headache to nausea feel like throwing up or vomiting and being breathless. As well as getting dizzy and tired and then getting strong throbbing headaches.
How do I prevent altitude sickness during the trek?
Walking slowly and take advice from your guide and leaders, and inform them if you are taking any medication. Drinking much fluid and water, taking enough rest, and do not use sleeping pills or other strong drugs/medication.
After getting well and recovering can I continue the trek?
Yes, depending upon the situation where you are in which place if it’s too far away from the main group. The best is to return to Kathmandu or Pokhara, any other place where you will meet the main group.
A single person not in a group can continue trek depending upon the limit of itinerary days. If you are having more than itinerary days, have to pay extra cost for more days.
What are the means of transportation if someone gets very sick?
Depending on the region of trekking, either by private vehicle where available or calling for helicopter services.
Do your staff and guides are experts in handling Altitude Sickness?
All our guides are well trained for High Altitude Sickness or AMS and attend workshops and medical training annually. For minor sicknesses, and wounds our guide can take care but for major illnesses and critical situations. The patient needs to be evacuated immediately by the fastest means of transportation.
Does the company provides oxygen and Gamow / Pressure Bags?
The company does provide portable oxygen cylinders or small light canisters and Gamow Bags for high-altitude trekking. Where there are no near villages and medical posts, like on longer trekking of more than three weeks. As well as extreme adventurous and challenging treks that involve many high-altitude walks and crossing passes.
Please leave some suggestion if you have for the Altitude Sickness.